Saturday, October 6, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Kidnapping/Hostage Films

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we turn our attentions to this weekend's "Taken 2", and offer up some of our own favorite kidnapping and hostage films. In this sequel to the hit 2008 film, Liam Neeson is back, this time in Istanbul, where he and his wife are taken hostage by the father of one of the men he killed while rescuing his daughter. Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen look to figure into larger roles this time around, but it looks like more of the same from Neeson's character - using his particular set of skills to seek revenge on those who continue to harm his family.


As is with this weekend's installment, many films of the kidnapping and hostage variety are basic thrillers. You take someone, someone either wants to escape or someone else wants to fight to get them back. It's a basic formula that works pretty well. We love our revenge and the idea of being taken by someone unknown and possibly hurt or killed is a scary thing for all of us. But that being said, kidnapping and hostage films come in all different varieties, spanning many different genres. Sometimes, it's the best ones that don't always abide by these genre standards and provide unique takes on the otherwise formulaic process. While we generally expect the thrills, chills and action, sometimes these films are hilarious and ridiculous; sometimes they're even animated. But no matter the genre, there are plenty of great selections available to a category like this; a category that featured some of the best variety below we've seen for a while.

So if you're in the mood for a good kidnapping movie, whatever its genre, then look no further! There are plenty of great options detailed for you below!

Alex Schopp -
These are barely ranked, and none of them feel like number-one selections. These five stood out to me the most, but even with a good variety of titles available, the top tier films aren't too impressive to me.

     1. Raising Arizona (1987)

Plenty of good laughs here, and Nicolas Cage is featured in one of his better roles of all-time - his narration alone makes this one enjoyable.
     2. Celtic Pride (1996)
I realize this is a "bad" movie, but the team-up of Dan Aykroyd and Daniel Stern as Boston Celtics fanatics is great. Plus, them having to root for the Jazz at the end of the game is great. A fun, light-hearted comedy for all the sports fans out there.
     3. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Ben Affleck's first directing effort, and a gem of a movie. I love the tone, and all of the acting is so good. Oddly enough, this is one of the first Blu-Rays I ever purchased.
     4. Little Monsters (1989)
This is a childhood staple. I love the art direction and set designs in this film. There are some decent gear-up scenes in the film, especially when Brian (Fred Savage) and his friends venture into the land of monsters to rescue his younger brother. I really love the look of all the monsters in the film though; there's some imagery much creepier than you'd expect.
     5. Oldboy (2004)
The guy is kidnapped for like fifteen years or something! None of these other movies can offer you that. Korean-made, this film is so visually crazy; very surreal and uncomfortable. Add in the graphic brutality and this one makes for a pretty intense package. If you can handle all of that though, this is an artistic and interesting watch for sure.

Ben Foutch -
This list is probably more liberal than it should be in terms of adhering to the film in which it's derived from, however, they still represent the victim/captor relationships that many hostage/kidnapping films showcase. This is with the exception of pick #5, which I feel is a must see.

     1. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Easily one of the best movies of the 90's.
     2. Misery (1990)
Much like the title above, this is as unsettling as it is entertaining.
     3. The Collector (1965)
I'm a little biased with this pic, as the book is one of my favorite Psychological Thrillers. But, the movie still captured quite a bit of the essence of the source material. Very similar in subject matter as the titles above.
     4. Commando (1985)
Schwarzenegger classic. Also a childhood favorite of mine.
     5. Cube (1997)
The smarter version of "SAW", before there was a "SAW", without the annoying back-story and moral justifications of Jigsaw.

Derek Clem -

     1. Hook (1991)

My favorite movie of all-time.
     2. Raising Arizona (1987)
Easily one of Nicolas Cage's greatest performances. He plays a great buffoon thinking he's doing the right thing for love.
     3. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Oh man, this movie is great! I love the opening narration so much. This move blew me away, I had no idea how great it was going to be. An amazing first step in feature length directing for Ben Affleck.
     4. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Childhood staple. Jim Carey is a riot on the lookout for Snowflake, the kidnapped Miami Dolphins mascot.
    5. The Searchers (1956)
Despite the fact that it's about a kidnapping, It's a John Ford and John Wayne team-up. It's canon viewing for any film lover. A must watch!
Nathan Hinds -
This genre usually translates to very watchable films.

     1. Commando (1985)

I love a good gear up scene, and this one has the best ever.
     2. Taken (2008)
Liam Neeson's phone scene will go down as one of the most memorable lines from the 2000's on.
     3. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
It's one of my favorite horror/thriller films ever, but I can't watch this movie without thinking about "Joe Dirt" most of the time. It looses a little bit of its effectiveness.
     4. Ransom (1996)
I want Mel Gibson to be in more movies. Check out "Get the Gringo" folks, heck that is sort of a hostage movie in a way.
     5. Misery (1990)
Second most evil role for a female ever, coming in behind Nurse Ratched.

Andy Schopp -

     1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

One of my favorite childhood movies.
     2. Hook (1991)
Too much nostalgia for me to even begin to describe.
     3. Saving Silverman (2001)
Jack Black and Steve Zahn are a perfect duo.
     4. King Kong (2005)
An epic adventure and love story.
     5. The Silence of the Lambs (2001)
Buffalo Bill is the scariest psychopath of all time. Period.

So there we have it, folks. Plenty of great variety, which led to very little repetition. All five lists featured different #1 selections this week, showing off the wide array of films available to this category. Even still, a few films rose above the rest, but only one was able to grab three picks: "The Silence of the Lambs". This was the most selections that any film received this week, also grabbing one of the #1 votes. It seems deserving to be the top vote-getter; as Ben mentioned above, this is one of the best films to come out of the 1990's. Great casting, great characters, and great tone. This is one you expect everyone's seen, but just in case, this is your urge to do so. Since their origin in 1927, "The Silence of the Lambs" is the only horror film to ever win Best Picture at the Academy Awards (though many might just classify this as a thriller).

And that leaves five other films which received two selections apiece: "Raising Arizona", "Commando", "Gone Baby Gone", "Misery", and "Hook". All five of these are very solid films, and definitely worth a watch. Not to discredit them in any way, but it feels that "Hook" and "Commando" have gotten a lot of play on this site in the past; the other three probably haven't received the attention they've deserved, so it's nice to point them out, even if it's only as duplicate selections in one of these posts. All five of these films are great watches though, and if any of these you still haven't seen, they all make great installments.

As always, we hope that each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that this category has to offer, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!